Artist Leigh Bowery was well known in London’s most fashionable circles for his flamboyant kitsch costumes and obscene performance art.
His life in the 1980s was a far cry from suburban Sunshine, where he was born in 1961. Bowery was almost unknown in his hometown during the height of his fame abroad.
But the late artist will take his place in local history with the soon-to-be completed St Albans Community Centre theatre set to carry his name.
Brimbank council has asked Leigh’s father, Thomas Bowery, for permission to name the theatre space after the artist in recognition of his influence on the international art scene.
Mr Bowery said he was proud and excited about The Bowery Theatre.
“The big disappointment is that someone with his talents had his life cut short,” he said.
Broke the mould
Bowery died of AIDS in 1995, aged 33. Brimbank administrator Jane Nathan said he had ‘broken the mould’.
“He is a world-renowned internationally recognised, controversial character, who is loved by those in the arts. As a costume designer he broke ground, he broke the mould,” Ms Nathan said. “For a boy from the west to do that, it has created an enormous amount of interest, not only from the UK but from America.”
Artist John Kelly, notorious for his massive bovine sculptures, also grew up in Sunshine. He said it boasts a cultural heritage like few other Victorian suburbs.
“Leigh Bowery and [performance artist] Stelarc are also from this suburb.
“Can another Melbourne suburb boast three international artists with such diverse practices?”